After more than 15 years since Greenville County Council tried to kneecap the Greenville Chamber of Commerce by pulling funding, the local chamber appears to be putting a small toe back in the local political waters.
It is forming a Small Business Policy Council, which according to a “mission statement” will inform, create, and guide our efforts in engaging local government in 2017 and beyond. We've heard the frustrations you have and the obstacles you face in starting and growing your business. We're here to help.”
A little back story. Way back in the Spring 2001, Greenville County Council voted to no longer give $150,000 a year to help the Chamber with economic development efforts. At the time of the 9-2 vote, then Council Chair Dozier Brooks said it was because the county want to take economic development in house and eventually did by creating the GADC.
The political underpinning was the move was an attempt to settle the score with business leaders whose moderate political views have long clashed with the council's conservative majority. Going back a few years prior to that, the Council and Chamber had gotten at odds over a controversial “anti-Gay ordinance.”
You can guess who was on what side of that battle.
In the intervening years, the Chamber opposed Council on a number of high profile issues with stances supporting the removal of the Confederate battle flag from atop the state capitol, the countywide election of a Council chairman and a property tax increase for public education.
Now, the Chamber is looking at a group that would be a watchdog on local council actions.